By David Pendered
Atlanta’s business and civic leaders are generally satisfied with the performance of the mayor and most councilmembers, according to a score sheet of incumbents and challengers released in advance of the Nov. 5 municipal election.
Mayor Kasim Reed received a score of 99 out of 100, for a rating of “excellent.” Council President Ceasar Mitchell received a score of 92, “excellent.”
In the campaigns for three citywide council posts, Councilmember Aaron Watson received a score of 95 and challenger Mary Norwood, a former councilmember and mayoral candidate, received a score of 86; Councilmember H. Lamar Willis received a score 92 and challenger Andre Dickens received a score of 83; Councilperson Michael Julian Bond, who is unopposed, received a score of 91.
In district races, the two incumbents who were ranked close to their challengers include incumbent Carla Smith, 86, and challenger Robert Welsh, 85; and incumbent Cleta Winslow, 84, and challenger Torriel “Torry” Lewis, 81.
The report was released by the Committee for a Better Atlanta, an umbrella organization of more than 20 major businesses and civic organizations including the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Central Atlanta Progress, Buckhead Coalition, Council for Quality Growth, Delta Air Lines, Americas Mart, SunTrust Corp., Georgia-Pacific Corp., and Georgia Power Co.
“The role of business in the government is important to Atlanta and we want to make sure that is reflected in November’s elections,” A.J. Robinson, chair of the 2013 CBA process and president of Central Atlanta Progress, said in a statement. “The issues that impact businesses, impact residents and the CBA wants to ensure that the 2013 elections result in what is best for the city. We evaluate the candidates and their platforms with the goal of helping all voters make informed decisions when they step in the voting booth.”
The evaluation was coordinated by Che Watkins, whose LinkedIn profile says she’s a consultant with the Metro Atlanta Chamber to oversee this evaluation process and recreate the EduPac evaluation process for candidates for the Atlanta Board of Education. Watkins left the chamber in 2012 to serve as campaign manager for the transportation sales tax referendum that was on the July 2012 ballot.
Willis was disbarred from practicing law in a ruling handed down Monday by the Georgia Supreme Court. The court upheld the recommendation of a review panel that determined Willis had breached several ethical standards, including an allegation that he deposited into his own bank account a check for $30,000 that should have been distributed to a client Willis represented in a personal injury case.
Willis issued a statement Monday saying that he paid the money to the client, has apologized for his actions, accepts responsibility for his actions and is moving on with his life. Willis contended during his hearing that he suffered from depression during a divorce, according to published reports.
Dickens is campaigning on ethics and his campaign released a statement Monday saying that Willis does not observe ethical standards and is unfit for public office. Dickens is backed by former Mayor Shirley Franklin, who contributed $2,000 to the campaign, according to a disclosure dated July 8. On his campaign website, Dickens wrote:
- “Simply stated, I believe any elected official who is found guilty in a civil court of abusing their official powers should face removal from office. In addition, repeated failure to file campaign finance reports should also qualify to remove an elected official from office.”
Neither Dickens nor Willis had met the Sept. 30 deadline for filing campaign disclosures, according to the website of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission. The grace period ended Oct. 7. Late fees begin accruing Oct. 8, for $125; Oct. 15 for $250 and Nov. 14 for $1,000.
Norwood filed a disclosure Monday that showed she has $77,546 in cash on hand, out of total contributions of $108,985.
Watson’s most recent disclosure that’s available on the website was received July 8, and showed cash of $71,527 out of total contributions of $72,980.